With Black Hammer and the rest of the heroes of the world gone, Lucy Weber — Black Hammer’s reporter daughter — sets out to find what happened to them. In doing so, she believes that finding the villainous rivals of the heroes is the best first step. First on the list of villains is Sherlock Frankenstein, the undead, possibly immortal genius nemesis of Black Hammer. This takes her to Spiral Asylum, where many of the old villains have been locked up.
Admittedly, I’m not too familiar with the Black Hammer story, but this comic does a good job of making that not a problem. It’s set up in the aftermath of the great disaster that took this world’s heroes, and it’s all about Lucy. She is the focal point, and it’s not just about finding the heroes. It’s about a woman finding her dad and the dark places she may have to go to do that.
It’s also about how impure the heroes may be, with the retired Wingman and Concretestador (damn, that name) maybe not being the best people to run an asylum for insane, damaged, or reforming villains.
This is exemplified by the man-child Mectoplasm, who died as a child but was resurrected by Sherlock Frankenstein and placed into a giant mech suit. He is sympathetic to Lucy’s plight, and he could be put back into society (wherever you could fit a giant robot) given the chance. However, Concretestador (help me) is just as cruel and harsh on him as any other villain in the asylum.
Admittedly, some of the potential this comic has is just that: potential. Lucy isn’t that well fleshed out in this first issue, and it’s very possible her quest is futile and will just lead her down a dark path. That, of course, is the problem with a serialized medium like comics: some things do have to be taken on faith in reviewing them.
That being said, Jeff Lemire put a good foot forward with this opening issue. Sherlock Frankenstein is a delightfully quirky villain, and Lucy Weber is an interesting character. The pacing is pretty slow-moving though, so be prepared for a lot of exposition and dialogue.
David Rubin’s art and colors give loads of personality to the odd yet dark world in which Sherlock Frankenstein takes place. It’s grainy, each character has a lot of visual quirks, and it’s an all-around visually appealing experience.
Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil is an interesting take on the superhero genre, particularly a new take on what happens when the age of heroes ends. Depressingly enough, not much changes, but that’s a fresh take on the premise, too. This one earns a recommendation; give it a try.
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